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114) Visit the Amazon 13 May 2012

Before we set off to Peru, I had been invited to write a feature for a Toronto-based arts & travel magazine. The article was slated to run in their upcoming summer print issue, aptly themed Life Journeys; I would write about our trek to Machu Picchu, our stay in the Amazon, and the complimentary 5-star spa & hotel in Lima the magazine would arrange for us.

However, a week prior to our departure, I received an alarming email from Paul, the owner of our lodge in the Amazon. Unbeknownst to us, the entire Amazon region of eastern Peru had been under a state of emergency. Heavy flooding (the worst the area has seen since the 1970’s) had caused significant damage to lowland villages and farmlands, leaving over 190,000 people homeless and without food or water.

Paul informed us that our lodge had been flooded, and that if we still wanted to travel to the Amazon, we’d be relocated to a temporary lodge on higher ground. He assured us that the worst of the disaster had passed and that the water was already beginning to recede; he encouraged us to continue with our plans.

Immediately (and selfishly, perhaps) I contacted my editor, hoping to work out a game plan, a new angle, anything to keep the article in the issue (I wanted it badly). We agreed on an appropriate story direction, and for the time being, everything seemed fine. But, last minute, on the advice of his media buying and pr team, he decided to pull the article. Ultimately, it was for the best. I wouldn’t have felt right writing a “fluffy” travel piece under those circumstances.

In the end, we decided to go anyhow and help wherever needed. We learned so much…saw so much…our trip was rich and full. I’ll never forget this place, or the families and children I met along the way.

*Special thanks to Amazonia Expeditions.